Development of the Olfactory System in a Wallaby (Macropus eugenii)Ashwell K.W.S.a · Marotte L.R.b · Cheng G.a
aDepartment of Anatomy, School of Medical Sciences, The University of NSW, Sydney, N.S.W., bCentral Nervous System Stability and Degeneration Group, Research School of Biological Sciences, Australian National University, Canberra, A.C.T., Australia
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We used carbocyanine dye tracing techniques in conjunction with hematoxylin and eosin staining, immunohistochemistry for GAP-43, and tritiated thymidine autoradiography to examine the development of the olfactory pathways in early pouch young tammar wallabies (Macropus eugenii). The overarching aim was to test the hypothesis that the olfactory system of newborn tammars is sufficiently mature at birth to contribute to the guidance of the pouch young to the nipple. Although GAP-43 immunoreactive fibers emerge from the olfactory epithelium and enter the olfactory bulb at birth, all other components of the olfactory pathway in newborn tammars are very immature at birth, postnatal day (P0). In particular, maturation of the vomeronasal organ and its projections to the accessory olfactory bulb appears to be delayed until P5 and the olfactory bulb is poorly differentiated until P12, with glomerular formation delayed until P25. The lateral olfactory tract is also very immature at birth with pioneer axons having penetrated only the most rostral portion of the piriform lobe. Interestingly, there were some early (P0) projections from the olfactory epithelium to the medial septal region and lamina terminalis (by the terminal nerve) and to olfactory tubercle and basal forebrain. The former of these is presumably serving the transfer of LHRH+ neurons to the forebrain, as seen in eutherians, but neither of these very early pathways is sufficiently robust or connected to the more caudal neuraxis to play a role in nipple finding. Tritiated thymidine autoradiography confirmed that most piriform cortex pyramidal neurons are generated in the first week of life and are unlikely to be able to contribute to circuitry guiding the climb to the pouch. Our findings lead us to reject the hypothesis that olfactory projections contribute to guidance of the newborn tammar to the pouch and nipple. It appears far more likely that the trigeminal pathways play a significant role in this behavior because the central projections of the trigeminal nerve are more mature at birth in this marsupial.
© 2008 S. Karger AG, Basel
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